“Communication is key” may be an overused saying, but its validity continues to ring true. All too often, we see organizations make critical errors and costly mistakes that could have been avoided with nothing more than effective internal communication. Many organizations find themselves focusing on external communication … customer service, quick response times to clients, etc. But they forget that the lines of communications within their office are just as important as the lines going out of it.
The healthcare field is an important and growing one, but it’s recently lost a lot of the perceived stability that has made it an attractive industry for so many employees. Whether it’s threats of Medicare cuts, panic over a shaky web site for Obamacare, or news of rarely seen physician lay-offs, healthcare industry staff at all levels are beginning to be more careful about who they choose to work for, how hard they work, and what approaches they take in their employment. As simple as it sounds, one of the best, easiest, and cheapest ways to ensure the stability of your organization and the loyalty of your employee base is through effective communication.
There are endless means of utilizing communication to improve operations and increase staff retention, but some basic points to keep in mind are:
1) Make sure your communication is timely … being proactive is best! If you know a big change is coming, give your organization as much warning as possible. Whether that’s something exciting like moving to a better office space or something not-so-exciting such as a reduction in benefits, the sooner you let your people know, the better. This will give everyone ample time to plan and show them that you are an honest organization that appreciates their service and wants to keep them informed.
2) Strive for a consistent message. When a management team contradicts itself, it gives an impression of disorganization and dishonesty, along with a general feeling of “I don’t really care about you”. Not only does each leader invalidate the other, it shows staff clearly that leadership is working together, which sets everyone up for situations of “one parent said ‘no’, so now I’m going to ask the other”. Overall, inconsistent messages from leadership present an organization that is chaotic, unstable, and not likely to be a long-term working environment for anyone involved.
3) Always engage in meaningful communication. The best organizations minimize email “clutter” and deliver focused memos that roll out consistent initiatives, rather than a litany of memos detailing weekly or daily changes to policy and procedures. Also make sure to keep meetings focused – have an agenda and feel free to set a timer if it will help you stay on track! Your staff will appreciate your consideration of their time. And if you anticipate questions during a meeting, make sure to integrate that into your planning so the meeting doesn't run long as a result and your staff gets adequate attention.
A lack of communication from the top down leads to a lack of communication from the bottom up. If you don’t appear invested, honest, and organized, your employees will not be those things, either. They will do the bare minimum, not inform you of critical operational issues, and won’t be invested in your future. High attrition rates and operational inefficiencies will abound, revenue will plummet, and true success will evade you. Your actions set the expectations for your staff.
In closing … please work with your management team and your staff to have open lines of communication and invest everyone in your success!
Thanks for listening,